Restoration of European yew (Taxus baccata L.) in Mediterranean mountains: importance of seedling nursery fertilization and post-planting light levels

Juan L. Nicolás Peragón, Luis F. Benito Matias, Jaime Puértolas Simón


Aim of the study: We studied the influence of nursery fertilization and post-planting light environment on the growth and survival of out-planted two-year-old yew (Taxus baccata) seedlings.

Area of study: Post-planting performance was assessed at two sites in the Valsain Forest (Central Mountain Range, Segovia, Spain).

Materials and Methods: Seedlings were grown using the same seed-lot, container type and fertirrigation schedule. A soluble fertilizer with two contrasting doses resulting in 239 and 376 mg N per seedling was applied during the whole culture period. Seedlings grown under the highest level of fertilization had greater root collar diameter, height, shoot to root ratio, root and shoot mass, and root growth potential before planting. Post-planting performance was assessed at two sites in the Valsain Forest (Central Mountain Range, Segovia, Spain). In each site, seedlings from both fertilization treatments were planted in three plots with contrasting light environment (full sunlight, and under Pinus sylvestris stands with moderate and deep shade conditions). Survival, diameter and height growth were monitored for six years.

Main results: Nursery fertilization did not affect survival, but high fertilization enhanced post-planting growth. Survival was highest under deep shade conditions but growth in this microsite was lower than in higher light sites, revealing a trade-off for survival and growth across light levels.

Research highlights: The lower fertilization rate used in this study was suitable to produce seedlings with acceptable quality. Planting under shaded conditions (light availability<30%) is recommended to maximize the initial success of yew plantations in Mediterranean mountains.

Keywords: Taxus baccata; plant quality; field growth; survival; reforestation.

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2015243-07464